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synkrotron

I need some advice using External Insert with Outboard Effects please

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Hi Peeps :)

Just to explain

I have spent around the last two weeks now, going between Cakewalk and REAPER, trying to incorporate my outboard effects in my test projects. I have been having no end of issues with terrible and somewhat inconsistent "timing" issues when trying to synchronise my hardware MIDI gear and my modular system. I have posted elsewhere about that so I will not go into details here.

My school boy error

I found out only the other day, from a post in the REAPER forum, that I should be pinging the outputs/inputs while the effects in the outboard units are bypassed, which is especially important with reverb. Because of my ignorance I was getting wildly different delay times when pinging, anything between 2000 to 4000 samples in Cakewalk's External Insert plugin. Now that I know that, and I have re-pinged my instances of External Insert (in Cakewalk) and ReaInsert (in REAPER) I am pretty much getting stuff synchronised now. Still some issues, but I don't think they can be linked with my outboard effects.

A question

Okay, now that I "think" I know what I am doing, I have a question

There is a big difference between Cakewalk's and REAPER's insert plugins, in terms of delay.

In External Insert, the delay is being reported as 1215 samples.

In ReaInsert the delay is being reported as 70 samples.

And so the question is, why is there such a big difference between the reported delay times in the two plugins?

What to do?

I'm in a quandary.

I really want Cakewalk to work for me.

As I have been getting back into Cakewalk I have reminded myself what a great DAW it is. I love instrument definitions, how you can edit them so that things like patch names and controller names are presented properly in Cakewalk and therefore easier and quicker to apply/assign to MIDI tracks and envelopes.

But while using my outboard effects the delay between hitting a key on my controller and the note sounding is simply too large, even for a sloppy player like myself.

Advice (now were are getting to it...)

Is there anything I can do to tackle the delay issue?

Am I using External Insert correctly? Could I manually change the delay time to a lower value and hope that it works (I suppose I should just try that)?

Am I expecting too much from my setup? (in-depth details here)

 

Okay, I think that covers it, I'll hand it over for consideration and hope that someone is able to help.

cheers

andy :)

 

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Try setting  the driver mode to ASIO as the audio driver in preferences >Audio>Playback and Recording. Then go to preferences>Audio>Driver Settings and adjust the buffer size by clicking the ASIO Panel, you should be able to get a minimum of 200-500samples round trip latency atleast. 

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16 minutes ago, Sonarman said:

Try setting  the driver mode to ASIO as the audio driver in preferences >Audio>Playback and Recording. Then go to preferences>Audio>Driver Settings and adjust the buffer size by clicking the ASIO Panel, you should be able to get a minimum of 200-500samples round trip latency atleast. 

Sorry, I should have stated here, and elsewhere, that I am using ASIO driver, currently set to 384 samples (I have tried lower but I get too many dropouts, crackles and pops)

And regardless of the so called "round trip" latency, I am getting much more than that when using External Insert.

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The sample buffer you are using is pretty large. If you haven't done so, try latency checker and see if some optional process is the cause of your crackling.

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Thanks Geoff, I will watch those videos later... Faffing with something else at the moment :)

You are right that I should be checking out LatencyMon, and I have been doing.

If I think I am doing anything "serious" I will usually fire up task manager and shut down obvious processes that I do not need, like Adobe updater, Skype etc.

But what is bothering me, I guess, is that I do not get the same amount of "trouble" when using REAPER, although I have to admit that I am not doing a fair comparison because they are not the "same" projects, in terms of tracks and effects, just "similar." At some point I need to really create a project in Cakewalk and port it over to REAPER, and then see.

Also, as I pointed out above, REAPER's ReaInsert is reported a considerably lower delay than Cakewalk's External Insert, and that is the main reason for my post here.

I suppose I could try an empty project in Cakewalk, add an instance of External Insert, do the ping, and see what that turns out to be, and then do the same in REAPER.

I'll do that when I get time later...

cheers

andy

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If you search the old Sonar forum, there are several in-depth threads on External Insert. 

From what I recall when I was setting this up is the Sonar/CbB reported latency is right.  External Insert does, however, have an issue with incorrect calculation for compensating for the latency, only matters if you record a track (with ext Insert)  into existing tracks.

Basically the 'ball park' for round trip latency is at least twice the buffer setting (out- back in) plus number of buffer.  Bbased on your setting of 384, the latency at the minimum would be twice that.  I don't know Reaper, but 70 is not right for round-trip latency

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6 hours ago, synkrotron said:

Sorry, I should have stated here, and elsewhere, that I am using ASIO driver, currently set to 384 samples (I have tried lower but I get too many dropouts, crackles and pops)

And regardless of the so called "round trip" latency, I am getting much more than that when using External Insert.

I see

You might also try checking whether you have applied any manual offset or timing offset in preferences > audio> sync and caching. By default they should be in 0.

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Maybe I'm just not getting my head around what you are trying to do. But, I use external inserts for processing tracks that have already been recorded; not for tracking in real time. That would double the round trip latency.

That being said, make sure to use the PDC button when tracking for lowest latency.

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Okay @Gswitz , I have watched the first video about using External Insert, so thanks for that.

I am a bit confused because when you do the ping, by clicking in the top box in the Delay section you then type that number in the text box below labelled "Offset (samples)."

I dug out the old SONAR manual and it doesn't mention that here for some reason:-

External_Insert_Manual.jpg

It mentions in item 5 to "Click the Delay Measurement control..." but does not then follow up with "now type that in the Offset box."

Having said that, if I leave the offset at zero, instead of typing in the measured delay, it just means that I have to adjust the timing offset on any MIDI tracks associated with any soft synths. Doing so then matches the timing of my hardware synths that are being played via MIDI.

So, for now, my External Insert plugin looks like this:-

External_Insert_190210.jpg

And I have done the same as you and typed in the figure in the top box into the box below.

cheers

andy

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4 hours ago, micv said:

If you search the old Sonar forum, there are several in-depth threads on External Insert. 

Hi @micv

I searched using google and it didn't really bring up anything helpful. In the meantime I found the SONAR Platinum manual on my hard drive and I have posted a screenshot of the relative section on External Insert above.

4 hours ago, micv said:

From what I recall when I was setting this up is the Sonar/CbB reported latency is right.  External Insert does, however, have an issue with incorrect calculation for compensating for the latency, only matters if you record a track (with ext Insert)  into existing tracks.

I'm sorry, I do not quite follow you there. I am using External Insert on an Aux track so that once I know I am done with my project I can "print" the output of that effect to audio, prior to final mixing.

4 hours ago, micv said:

Basically the 'ball park' for round trip latency is at least twice the buffer setting (out- back in) plus number of buffer.  Bbased on your setting of 384, the latency at the minimum would be twice that.

I will post a screenshot of my Cakewalk Driver Settings page:-

Cakewalk_Driver_Settings_190210.jpg

As you can see, my Buffer Size is set to 384.

The reported Roundtrip is then calculated below that and works out to be 1534 samples. Quite a bit more than double my 384 Buffer Size.

4 hours ago, micv said:

I don't know Reaper, but 70 is not right for round-trip latency

Okay, I might be misleading you in my original post. 70 samples isn't the Roundtrip, it is an offset that is added to the reported Roundtrip.

Here is a screenshot from REAPER's ReaInsert:-

ReaInsert_190210.jpg

Please note the greyed out text just below the setting for "Automatic device latency adjustment," which I have checked/selected. It says, "Reported latency 1534 samples," which is the same value in the Cakewalk Driver Settings dialogue box.

Then below that there is a box for "Additional Delay Compensation:" and in that box it currently says, "66" samples (I rounded that up to 70 in my OP just because). So I think that REAPER adds 66 to 1534.

To be honest, I still don't have a clue what is going on here. I mean, I do, in a way, but my head is spinning with the technicality of it all. At the end of the day, perhaps it doesn't matter as long as I manage to get the hardware MIDI synth audio lining up with the soft synth audio.

It's just that. for some reason, there is a difference of around 100ms between Cakewalk and REAPER and I am trying to understand why.

 

Cheers, and thanks for your input here,

andy

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1 hour ago, Sonarman said:

You might also try checking whether you have applied any manual offset or timing offset in preferences > audio> sync and caching. By default they should be in 0.

Hi @Sonarman,

Here is a screenshot of my Cakewalk Sync and Caching settings:-

Cakewalk_Sync_Caching_190210.jpg

As you can see, no manual offset applied.

cheers,

andy

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Hi @Base 57,

37 minutes ago, Base 57 said:

Maybe I'm just not getting my head around what you are trying to do. But, I use external inserts for processing tracks that have already been recorded; not for tracking in real time. That would double the round trip latency.

Okay, I'll try to explain.

I have a four MIDI hardware synths and I "play" them via MIDI tracks within my DAW, be that Cakewalk or REAPER. The audio from those instruments are fed into my DAW via my audio interfaces which are two OCTA-CAPTURE units. I will only record that audio once I am happy with the "composition."

A typical project will also have a VSTi too, and, again, I do not "print" these until I need to.

So, everything stays in the MIDI domain until I am ready, or until my DAW can no longer cope with the number of tracks on the go. But I do try to hold off for as long as possible.

For effects I use a combination of hardware and software.

The only difference between me and you, then, is that I am using my hardware effects, with the help of External Insert, to process real time audio, rather than recorded audio. I am not sure what the difference is yet as I have not yet recorded any audio. All my efforts have been put into synchronising my hardware synths and software synths, which has been a bit of a bind because, I am embarrassed to say, did not realise that I had to bypass the effects in my hardware units. Now that I do, things have become a little bit easier, although, as you can see from above, I am still scratching my head over some things.

47 minutes ago, Base 57 said:

That being said, make sure to use the PDC button when tracking for lowest latency.

Okay, this is new to me.

I've seen the PDC button before and often wondered what it is for. I guess I should hit the manual... In fact, I've just done that. And I am even more embarrassed now.

I realise now that when using a plugin like Pro-L, for instance, which searches ahead for any incoming transients, that this is where PDC comes in. At least I think so.

 

I must sound like a complete noob...

I feel I must defend myself here, haha, or at least explain my past experience.

Way back in the late nineties and in to the early naughties, I was all hardware. I would create MIDI tracks in Cakewalk, back when it was TTS, which would play my MIDI hardware and at the same time I would record a stereo track in Sound Forge. I even managed to buy a MIDI mixer around that time, which helped with mixing and automation. Good times.

Then around the release of SONAR 5 I got heavily into VST stuff and my hardware gathered dust.

A couple of times in the last few years I have tried incorporating my old MIDI synths into my projects but nothing much come of that.

Then I got into Eurorack modular synth stuff and my DAW was consigned to simple multi track recording duties. I didn't even bother setting a correct BPM as everything was "outboard," even my effects.

So, present day, here I am going over new ground and making a complete hash of it all.

 

Oh well, it is why I am here, asking noob questions, I guess :D

cheers

andy

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@synkrotron

If you find my video is now wrong or misleading, I'll take it down.

I was probably following directions from a sonar power book, not online help.

My info could be old, bad or both.

I tend to print the data from external inserts before using it. The off set only helps me align it with the original. It isn't hard to do it manually, if you want, by zooming in on the wave form.

One of my favorite plugins is melda mautoalign. This helps me minimize phase issues. I usually compare 2 alignments ... Keep the best of the 2 and do another, again keeping the best of the 2. I find that the alignment tool often correctly measures the feet between each Mic.

Edited by Gswitz
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Hiya Geoff,

4 hours ago, Gswitz said:

If you find my video is now wrong our misleading, I'll take it down.

I'm not sure to be honest. I mean, it works for you, and it works for me, although so does leaving the offset at zero.

In my opinion the manual is poor and the plugin is not intuitive.

I just did a search on google for "sonar external insert instructions." The top item in the search was older documentation for X2:-

https://www.cakewalk.com/Documentation?help=Mixing.32.html&language=3&product=SONAR X2

Which is pretty much the same as the latest SONAR User Guide.

Third item in the search is an even older Cakewalk 8.3:-

https://www.cakewalk.com/Support/Knowledge-Base/20090222/SONAR-8-3-External-Inserts-Enhancements-Tips

I think that the important thing to take notice of is the part about "Testing the Delay Measurement"

I followed these instructions:-

Quote

 

The External Insert's delay measurement is normally sample accurate. However, for some hardware configurations, it is possible that a manual adjustment of up to several samples may be required to be exactly sample-accurate. For most users, even this rare timing mismatch would be insignificant and could be ignored. If you wish to test the accuracy the delay measurement is for your hardware, you can do the following test:

  1. Create an audio track with an audio clip
  2. Clone this track (including the audio)
  3. Patch the External Insert on one of the tracks
  4. Set up the send and return to use some available inputs and outputs on your sound card
  5. Directly patch an audio cable between the inputs and outputs on your sound card
  6. Press play in SONAR - you should hear both tracks out of time with each other
  7. Carefully match the levels of the two tracks (hint: use the numeric peak indicators on the track strip). It's important for this test that the levels are as close as possible
  8. Flip the phase of one of the Tracks
  9. Measure the Delay - A number of milliseconds should appear on the delay button
  10. Press play in SONAR again - you should now hear the track play significantly quieter and thinner sounding
  11. To see if the delay is measured as accurately as possible, try adjusting the manual offset by one sample either way. Press play after each adjustment and note if the sound gets louder or quieter.

In almost all cases, you should find that the sound is quietest with no manual offset. In some rare circumstances, you may have hardware that requires an offset of a sample or two. If this is the case, you will want to always add that offset when you use the External Insert (hint: the manual offset can be saved in a preset for the External Insert). If you perform the measurement accuracy test, it should only need to be done once for any particular sound card.

 

Now this, to me, implies that we should only be using the "Offset" box for very small amounts of adjustment.

When I tried the above, the initial delay applied did not totally cancel the sound, as expected with the phase inverted. Then when I tried adjusting the offset up or down the sound actually got louder and I ended up leaving it at zero.

I think that this confirms that perhaps what we have been doing is in fact incorrect. It works because at the end of the day we are re-aligning stuff by other methods.

What are you thoughts, Geoff?

 

cheers, and thanks again,

andy 

Edited by synkrotron
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I'm thinking the video is bad advice. I'll take it down - maybe make a good one. Thanks for the info.

Edited by Gswitz
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Hi @Gswitz :)

I watched all of your video.

I was with it, 100%, up to around five minutes in and then I got a bit confused. So all the stuff about the phase cancelling, adding External Insert and then finally bringing in your compressor, totally with that.

I understand why you need to send to an Aux track, in order to record the output from the compressor.

I think that anything after that isn't actually relevant to the "how to" of using External Insert. It is more about how to use a particular effect.

For instance, once you have "printed" the compressor output to the Aux track, is the original track done with? Could either be muted or even deleted if you don't think you will be changing anything (although I wouldn't recommend that).

Or you could leave the original track in place and use the Aux track for "parallel compression" and mix to suit with the original.

Regardless, though, it certainly would help someone like myself using External Insert for the first time, so, good job done really 👍

 

cheers

andy

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Thanks.

Not a perfect video.

Direct output works the same as using external insert in terms of alignment.

External insert might make it easier to mix original with effected track live without printing our moving the send around between effects.

Idk. I was surprised that both seemed to work equally well.

Thanks

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10 minutes ago, Gswitz said:

Not a perfect video.

Better than anything I could do, Geoff. I hate doing talky stuff in any sort of "live" situation. It ain't easy, even though some YouTubers make it look like it is...

cheers,

andy :)

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On 2/10/2019 at 10:08 PM, synkrotron said:

I have a four MIDI hardware synths and I "play" them via MIDI tracks within my DAW, be that Cakewalk or REAPER. The audio from those instruments are fed into my DAW via my audio interfaces which are two OCTA-CAPTURE units. I will only record that audio once I am happy with the "composition."

For effects I use a combination of hardware and software.

The only difference between me and you, then, is that I am using my hardware effects, with the help of External Insert, to process real time audio, rather than recorded audio.

You don't need an External Insert if you want to process real time audio with hardware effects, just record the output of your hardware.


The External Insert plug-in is needed/handy if you play audio from your DAW through an external hardware device and record the outcome, because it cares about the latency which is introduced by the additional DA - AD conversion of your audio interface.


Recording a hardware synth driven via MIDI tracks from a DAW also doesn't need the External Insert plug-in but you may have to adjust a possible offset in Preferences > Sync and Caching or manually by shifting notes.

 

Best,
Klaus

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